• Room 01.006 - 26 University Square

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applications on militias, political violence, terrorism, counterinsurgency and related areas.


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research Interests

Dr. Andrew Thomson is a Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast and a Fellow at the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice.

He is a certified mediator. 

His research interests reside primarily in the areas of conflict analysis, peace studies, political violence, and US foreign policy with a focus on pro-government militias, civil conflicts, counterinsurgency, irregular warfare, and peace negotiations and peace processes more broadly. 

First, he is interested in the effects of pro-government militias on the dynamics of violence in civil conflicts. His research in this area has been published in Journal of Conflict Resolution, International Studies Quarterly, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, among others.  Second, he focuses on the peace process in Colombia in the context of multiple warring actors. He completed a 2017 project funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund on how FARC members’ interactions with other armed organizations influenced their disarmament process. He is currently working on a project called “Negotiating with your Allies? Lessons from the Government-AUC peace negotiations of 2003-2004”. This focuses on the Colombian government’s approach to negotiating with the AUC paramilitary or pro-government militia in 2003-2004 to provide lessons for Petro’s Total Peace plan and eventual negotiations with groups such as the Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC). Thirdly, he is currently working on a project “Positive Peace In Northern Ireland: A Northern Irish Peace Index”. In collaboration with the Institute for Economics for Peace, this project seeks to develop a Northern Irish Peace Index to measure and monitor trends in positive peacefulness in Northern Ireland. Finally, he is interested in the US counterinsurgency and unconventional warfare practices and the sponsorship of paramilitary agents, militias, insurgents, and mercenaries.  His book, Outsourced Empire: How Militias, Mercenaries and Contractors Support US Statecraft, examines practices of working with or through such actors in US foreign interventions for the "stabilization" of arrangements beneficial to US interests in target countries.  He is currently working on another book on the history of the War on Terror co-authored with Rubrick Biegon. 

Andrew is on the governing council of the Conflict Research Society (CRS) and member of various academic societies.

He is open to considering supervision of PhD projects around in the areas of conflict analysis, peace studies, political violence, and related areas. In particular, he welcomes PhD supervision on topics around pro-government militias.   


Dr. Andrew Thomson is the convenor/director of the MA in Violence, Terrorism and Security

He teaches on a variety of classes at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels:

PAI 2055 Security and Terrorism

PAI 2065 Peace and Conflict Studies

PAI 3038 US Foreign Policy

PAI 7007 Global Terrorism

PAI 7028 Violence, Terrorism and Security

He also contributes regularly to a variety of other classes in areas such as conflict intervention, conflict transformation and peace processes, international security, international relations, American politics, among others and specialist classes such as at the Institute for Global Peace Security and Justice Summer School. 

He regularly supervises MA and undergraduate dissertations on terrorism, ISIS and jihadist organizations, state violence, counterinsurgency, negotiations to end armed conflict, peace processes, among many other related topics. 

In he was awarded a Teaching Award 2015 - Student-nominated category of Queen’s University Belfast Teaching Awards 2015 and also received a Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE) in 2012.


Andrew was born in Oxford, UK, is of Irish descent but was raised in Colombia and the United States before returning to England for university. In 2007 he received BA in Politics and International Relations (1st class honours) from University of Kent and in 2008 an M.A. in International Relations from University of Sussex. He then completed a PhD at the University of Kent in International Relations in 2013, moving to Queen’s University Belfast shortly afterwards.  Andrew is fluent in Spanish and a basic understanding of Portuguese, French, and Italian.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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